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MFL Learners: Can't do it or won't do it?

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by tastytortilla, Feb 7, 2018.

  1. expresslts

    expresslts New commenter

    Evening all,
    Arriving home today from work and the questions is still nagging away at me: why couldn't some of my pupils not complete the reading assessment today.

    An example of one of the questions:
    Tengo los ojos verdes.
    Box A = blue eyes
    Box B = green eyes
    Box C = brown eyes

    These were followed by extremely short paragraphs which questions like: What ages is her sister?

    Some of the pupils plainly said: "I don't get it".
    They had access to a dictionary and those who were severely struggling were given access to their printed vocab lists on the topic.

    Does anyone else experience this level of just utter disregard for the subject? Can it be that despite weeks and weeks of practice through all four skills that there will be those who just won't do it?

    Feeling utterly deflated by it and just don't know whether it is unreasonable for me to expect someone to be able to have answered such questions. When I asked what I could do to help I was met with shrugs at which point I just walked away. Feeling horrible and frustrated.
  2. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

  3. catmother

    catmother Star commenter

    All the time and I've been doing it for over 25 years.
  4. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Not having taught languages for many years I do wonder if some of this is down to the way students are taught these days: learning phrases by rote and unable to deconstruct/ construct sentences which they have not met before. Though in your example I'm sure there's no way they could not have met those structures /sentences with that vocabulary. o_O

    I do agree students have to be so spoon-fed these days, that the effort involved in learning languages is too much for many students. :(
    Idiomas11 and polyglot91 like this.
  5. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Retrain for Mathematics teaching. Same pupil disregard but easier rules so better outcomes.
  6. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    I have MFL trainees on the course. They say similar things. My personal subject is English and it strikes me that we approach the teaching of our respective subjects really quite differently. I’d be doing drama, role plays, improvisation with bonus marks for using the correct phrasing etc. They will be doing chorus and rote -all whole class stuff.
  7. elder_cat

    elder_cat Lead commenter

  8. expresslts

    expresslts New commenter

    Is that aimed at the simplicity or my typo?
  9. expresslts

    expresslts New commenter

    Would love to do that in MFL, but even with differentiation I would bet that too many would not (be able to) engage in those kinds of tasks.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  10. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    In the past, this was indeed my approach. Someone looking in at some of my classes would think it looked like bedlam.:rolleyes: But I reckoned with about 5-6 groups with one person 'talking' in each they still got more practice than the average 2mins per session in a class teaching situation.
    And I do agree that it probably wouldn't work nearly so well these days. Especially with cutting the hours allowed to deliver the curriculum there simply isn't the time. English gets more 'curriculum time' than MFL.:(
  11. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    It depends on the planning I suppose. I recall reading a study which got them to spend a whole day (imagine, a whole day on MFL!) learning and rehearsing a play. The outcomes were very high in terms of short and long term impact. You can’t say the words properly unless you really know what is being said and why.
    We’ve been working on co-planning and co-teaching as well. E.g. imagine the pupils were going to do English followed by MFL. They could have characters in their creative writing who spoke a different language within a writing piece. You could foreshadow this with some drama and writing in both lessons.

    I shall have to talk to some MFL trainees. I had one last year who used a lot of role play very successfully.
  12. meggyd

    meggyd Star commenter

    About 20 years ago when Mfl was compulsory I had a group like this. On one occasion I gave them a multiple choice reading and gave the same one to my daughter who was 5 at the time. She did the paper randomly. If you see 5 in brackets put 5 ticks etc. Yes you've guessed it. She did better than some of them. I also remember a worksheet on labelling a bicycle in German. She managed to guess Sattel which was more than some of them managed to do.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  13. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    I put my son's pass in GCSE French down to 'random choice' on the multiple choice paper as he really shouldn't have passed that paper.
    In our practice oral I asked him," Comment t'appelles-tu?"
    His reply? "Oui." :rolleyes:
    Idiomas11 likes this.
  14. cake4tea

    cake4tea New commenter

    I think that for some kids, "I don't get it" is a default setting which means they need not do anything until they are helped or effectively spoon fed the answers. The whole system has become skewed in that there is more pressure on teachers and schools for them to pass the exams than the actual candidates!
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  15. Geekie

    Geekie Occasional commenter

    I agree with cake4tea. Some students "shut down" as soon as there's anything they perceive as vaguely taxing. My current Y6 are like that. "I can't read Spanish." Yet if I sit with them and point to a word and say "What does this mean?" they can tell me. They just don't want to expend any unnecessary effort or waste any precious brain cells.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.

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